The Mouse of Destiny

A mouse awoke in the middle of winter and crawled out of its hole. As it was located atop a tall mountain peak, it could see for miles around. If this mouse had been less practically-minded, it might have considered the view breathtaking, awe-inspiring, even humbling. But this particular mouse was merely looking around. As it took a few more steps to get a better view of its surroundings, it dislodged a pebble.

The pebble rolled downhill and struck a few more pebbles. These, in turn, brought down more pebbles, resulting in a cascade which knocked loose a small rock. The process repeated and amplified, until several rocks collided with a snow bank, triggering a mighty avalanche.

The maelstrom of snow thundered down the mountain slope and crashed into an old reservoir, which could not handle the sudden strain and collapsed. Thousands of tons of water hurtled down the valley, gathering momentum and picking up debris. By the time it struck the sleepy town of two thousand, it was, by the measure of the doomed inhabitants, an unstoppable force of destruction. Not one building remained standing; not a single soul in the town survived.

When all finally became still again, the mouse thought, “Wow, I'm really someone to be reckoned with!” He renamed himself Mousey the Great, and from that day forward his fellow mice and their offspring feared and respected him for the power he was known to wield.


Shave Me From My Self

I am not what I say
I am not what I think
I am not my beliefs
I am a hairless ape

I am not Canadian
In Canada I was born
I am not American
The USA's where I live

I am a hairless ape

I am not a good man
Some might say it's so
I am not a bad man
Sometimes it seems so

I'm just a hairless ape

I am not a liberal
I am not a democrat
I am not a socialist
I am not a communist
I am not an anarchist

I am a hairless ape

I am not a Christian
I am not an atheist
I am not a believing object
Nor am I a skeptic

I am a hairless ape

I believe that what I am is:
I am a hairless ape
I'm not made of my beliefs, however
I'm not a hairless ape

I am not my thoughts
In fact...
I am not my memory
I am not my mind
And yet...

I do recall
From time to time
I can enjoy
A nice banana.


I Hope This is Clear

Obscurantism is a tempting substitute for profundity.

What's more...

Authority is what you have when everybody who disagrees with you has left.

And if that wasn't enough...

We're generally too scatterbrained to notice how scatterbrained we are.

The thing is, you see ...

Reality isn't like anything; that's why it's called reality. Reality is that which is, our beliefs and desires notwithstanding. What is ... is. Thinking about reality is no substitute for the real thing. Thinking about the present is no substitute for being there.

Alas ...

My ego is as smart as I am, but isn't worn out by fighting my ego.


Phear My Postmodern Awesomeness

am burroughs but cannot care
do faulkner here i is
it it
joyce know like likely me
nor not
particularly people seems
some that
thinking to what would writers
you you!

one million dollars, please.


The Present Cookie

Do you remember the first cookie you ever ate?

No, of course you don't. How about the second cookie?

The third?

How about the seventeenth?

If you're an adult in a developed nation, you've probably eaten hundreds of cookies. Far too many to remember individually. Why don't you go have one now? You're an adult; you're allowed.

Mmm, wonderful cookies.

But that cookie you have in mind can't possibly be as interesting or amazing as the first cookie you ever had. You know why? Because you have it in mind, that's why. Most of the surprise is gone.

Memory is thus a mixed blessing. Can you imagine what it would be like if you could once again experience a cookie for the first time?

I've heard that cannabis tampers with memory, making it hard to recall anything. Maybe that's what causes (or at least contributes to) the so-called “munchies.”

That's my theory, anyway. I could be wrong. I do know, though, that when I'm very much “in the present” my food tastes amazing. Or maybe I'm dragged into the present because I'm an amazing cook.

I'm not sure which one is true. But I'm getting hungry. Where did I put those cookies?

You Are Here

Here's a question for you to consider:

Are you in the universe? Or are you of the universe?

Yes, I know Jesus reportedly asked a similar question about “the world” (John 15:19).  I'm not talking about “the world;” I'm talking about the whole universe. I'm talking about everything there is (including your favorite god, if you absolutely must make this needlessly complicated).

Are you in the universe? Or are you of the universe?

Do you see the difference? Do you also see that most people's thoughts favor one viewpoint over the other almost all of the time?

If you do see that, do you see why it's so?

We can consider both versions true, of course. But there's a universe of difference in what they imply.

If Only They'd Listen

Black people! They're all the same!
Crack-addicted drug dealers!
Except you, of course.
You're one of the good ones.

Jews! They're all the same!
Money-grubbing control freaks!
Except you, of course.
You're one of the good ones.

Gays! They're all the same!
Marriage-destroying whiny bitches!
Except you, of course.
You're one of the good ones.

Atheists! They're all the same!
Religion-bashing child aborters!
Except you, of course.
You're one of the good ones.

I have 'em all figured out!
Except you, my black Jewish gay atheist friend.
Somehow only you seem to care
That I'm always being picked on.

Note to the Terminally Dense:  
This  is  a  work  of  satire. 
It does not reflect my actual opinion 
of any group of people except idiots.


Instructional Television Programming

Today I sat in a doctor's waiting room with nothing interesting to do. I'd forgotten to bring a book.

With no other choice, I watched the television. It was mounted high up on the wall, so I couldn't change channels nor, I gather, was I supposed to. It was showing a kids' cartoon.

I haven't seen a kids' cartoon for many decades. I realized that I didn't actually know how they worked, so I watched carefully.

Well, every minute or so the animated character would tell the viewer to get into a certain pose, or clap hands thus, or say such-and-such words, or speak the answer to a puzzle — the correct answer for which was always strongly hinted at. And then the character would look out from the screen, and the show would pause to give sufficient time to carry out the action.

This happened over and over. It was quite mind-numbing. Of course, I'm an adult, and this show wasn't designed for me, was it?

An advertising commercial came on.

I had a sudden urge to go buy that thing.

Now how do you suppose that happened?

Free Immortality for Everyone!

“What do you suppose happens after you die?"

This is a question that atheists are frequently asked when they reveal to their God-fearing friends that they aren't believers. Alas, all too often the atheist responds in a rather harsh way:  “My body rots and that's it!”

This usually has the desired effect, which is to shock the believer. There's only one problem with that statement: it's wrong.

Oh, the body does rot, but that's certainly not “it”. Everybody (and everything) who has ever lived is immortal, after a fashion.

Consider this: while you're alive you can't help but affect other things. It might be a minimal effect, such as moving your tiny gravitational attraction from one place to another. Over time this adds up, thanks to what is called The Butterfly Effect. On the other hand, you will sometimes have a much more obvious or even multiplicative effect. Imagine how much you change if, for example, you encourage somebody at a bleak time in their life so that they don't commit suicide.

Not everybody saves a life like that (or knows that they did) but regardless how you live your life, the effects will cause other effects, which in turn will have other effects. And so on, at least until the end of this universe.

That might not sound like a good deal to people who want to live forever, whatever that means — and it actually sounds a bit frightening to me — but non-believers see things differently. They tend to emphasize living in the here and now, not the great hereafter.

But what of the big picture? Well, non-believers like me are awestruck that the very atoms in our bodies were forged in the cores of exploding stars. Wow! That's a far better story than the one in the Bible book of Genesis. At least, I think it would make a much better movie.

And afterward? I don't expect to remain for eternity in this mind, with this name and identity. Who actually wants that sort of thing? Are they mad? Anyway, I don't suppose this mind, as such, will out-live my body at all. But thanks to the cascading of cause and effect, my short time here will be recorded in the very fabric of the universe. And the same applies to every entity that ever lived, whether or not they know it.

In my opinion, this is a better immortality story than the one in the Bible or the Quran. It may not appeal to the ego, but it doesn't require any faith whatsoever, and everybody can plainly see that it's true.


An Open Letter to an Associate

The following article wrote itself as I was responding to a fellow, who calls himself Wylo, with whom I have recently become associated. I was going to name this article An Open Letter to a Friend, but that's a bit presumptuous.

Anyway, if you've ever wondered why this blog exists, you can read below and find out why I do it.


Wylo, your message is encouraging to me. I have also been encouraged by seeing the rest of the Ruthless Truth forum, Ciaran Healy's blog and Facebook page, Liberation Unleashed and the Dharma Overground. That might sound like a mixed bag but here's the point:  these web sites suggest to me that the world might be on the verge of addressing an issue that has concerned me for years.

The way I see it, humanity now has the means to destroy itself, and within a generation will have the means to destroy all life on this planet. So the time for us to learn to wage peace is running out. Over 2600 years have elapsed since the Buddha woke up, but we can't mess around any longer. Either there is some cooperation and advancement in enlightenment studies or humanity will go the way of the dinosaurs.

A few years ago I brought up this matter in one of the top Buddhist forums. I did not find the response helpful. The most representative comment was, “What part of Buddhism did you not understand?” I left with the impression that they'd confused enlightenment with fatalism, but what did I know?

I could be utterly misguided, but as I see it the advent of the Internet is creating a shift in the global mentality, and this will affect the “enlightened” as well.  “Cooperative research” is what I hope to see now. I see no reason why enlightenment studies cannot be subjected to the same checks, balances, doubt and honesty that science is reputed to have. I have never found these so-called “spiritual” matters the least bit mystical. They do require a certain flexibility of mind, though not, in my experience, as much as is required for quantum physics!

Last year, after I was diagnosed with cancer, my father suggested that I jot down my varied views. I protested that I couldn't think of a way to express my ideas clearly, but he said I could at least try. So I started a blog. Maybe I could say something that was useful. Still, I seriously doubted I'd make a difference. But the process of writing, researching and promoting the blog led me to people who seem to be on roughly the same wavelength, and who seem more oriented toward cooperation than I've seen before.

I am serious about cooperation. I personally think that all religions have, at their core, a sense of the truth, even if memetic drift has rendered it almost unrecognizable. I include even strange renditions such as Kaballah, Sufism, A Course in Miracles and more. All of these seem to me to bear the same relation to truth that alchemy did to chemistry before science rigorized the process of discovery. It is my hope that before I die I can see a similar leap forward in enlightenment circles.

So now we'll see what happens.


One Half of a Meme

“If we evolved up from the ground...”
The challenge thus begins
“Then why are monkeys still around?”
The asker smugly grins

And though this question's meant to show
Creationism's true
I merely wonder why it's so
They always think it's new!


Acquired Value

When I was a little kid — around 7, I suppose — I made a bargain with my stepsister, who was the same age. I'd noticed that she was charmed by some lovely clinky bits of money I had. She, on the other hand, had a dollar bill.

I proposed that we swap my 45 cents for her dollar. I knew that I could buy more stuff with a dollar, and she knew that the coins were pretty and tinkled together with a sound she liked. We made the deal.

My parents later found out and reversed the trade. I did not protest. I wasn't even upset. To me this was just another one of those rules the adults teach us.

They said the rules made sense. I took them at their word. I was just a kid.

In case you've forgotten, this is what money looks like:

Anyway, I'd received a piece of paper worth about a hundredth of a cent. My stepsister had received sparkly coins made of pure Canadian nickel, shiny copper, and a smidgen of silver.

Did I cheat my sister? Did she cheat me? Was anybody cheated at all? It turns out that it depends on those rules the adults teach us.


Question of the Daze

What if the thing you are
trying to save yourself from
is the very thing you are
trying to save yourself with?



Agg the caveman saw lightning hit the dead log and set it on fire. Rushing forth, he grabbed the burning wood and brought it back to the cave. The tribe rejoiced as Agg restored the ancient cold fireplace to life, and Agg was hailed as He Who Captured Lightning. Agg died one year later but the tribe managed to keep the fire lit for several more months.

A hundred years passed.

Egg the caveman was idly tossing dark stones around when one of them sparked brightly, setting some straw on fire. Sensing opportunity, he added more straw to the fire. Eventually he managed to get the fire hot enough to burn wood, and this enabled him to bring flame back to the cave. Egg was hailed as Keeper of the Flames. After Egg died, two years later, the tribe managed to keep the fire lit for several more weeks.

A hundred years passed.

Igg the caveman, while banging stones together, inadvertently set some dry moss alight. It went out too quickly for him to build up the flame, but Igg decided to try banging stones together again. It worked, so he brought some of the magic stones back to the cave. Igg was hailed as Master of Fire because he could, apparently, call it forth at will. Igg treasured his position as Master of Fire and never revealed the secret. The last fire went out a few days after his death.

A hundred years passed.

Ogg the caveman discovered flint in the usual accidental way. As the legends recommended, he was declared Firemaster. But Ogg was quite old — over 30 years! — so he taught his son the secret. The son taught his son, and so on for generations. The tribe had fire for nearly 200 years. Alas, toward the end of a particularly good hunting season a wild beast killed both the Firemaster and his son. Later that same day, the fires also died.

A hundred years passed.

Ugg the caveman found the legendary flint rocks hidden near the back of the cave. After some experimenting he discovered how they worked. The tribal tales declared that this could make him an honored Firewizard, with all the privileges that entailed. But Ugg knew other, older stories about the Firewizards. These said that Firewizards gave the people gifts for only a while, then took those gifts with them into the Great Beyond.

Ugg had an idea. He gave everybody a flint. The tribe rejoiced. Ugg then went to the next valley and gave flints to the tribes there, too. When he returned his tribe killed him for sharing their secret.

A million years passed. The fires continued to keep us warm.


Things I Wonder About

Why do so many “enlightened” sages ...

Jump to the conclusion that their IQ has risen?
Miss the fact that most or all of their followers are pale imitations of them?
Claim to have discovered something crucial all other sages overlooked?
Rarely cooperate with one another?
Conclude that by solving one big problem they've solved all big problems?

What does it all mean?

Humans are hairless apes. Our cousins are still throwing shit at each other. And in a way, so are we.


Trust Me!

If a man can fool
the one person who
can genuinely read his mind ...
then how much easier
is it for him
to thoroughly mislead you?


The Unrepeatable Feeling of Alive

Nothing, absolutely nothing you can do can make something new. You can polish it, you can buff it, you can paint it, you can scrape it, you can hold it at arm's length, you can hug it. But you can't make it new again.

When you forget it's old there is a chance. When you forget you're forgetting there is a chance. When you are not looking for the chance there is a chance.

Something old is new again when you trip over it in the dark. Something old is new again when you were looking for something else. Something old is new again when you never got used to it.

Every drip of a faucet — even the first — can be old or new. If it annoys it is old. If it pounds and pounds it is old. If it crashes just before it splashes it is old. If it has a fresh voice it is new, but if you wait for it, it will never arrive.

If a bird chirps while it's not yet a bird, it is new. If you hear a train whistle before it becomes a train whistle it is new. If you taste a note you expected to hear it is new.

When something is new, all the time in the universe can fall into it.


Finding Our Way

"My car's navigation computer is broken! How will I get to the show now?"
"You could always use ... this."
"Wow, an old-fashioned paper map! Does it still work?"
"Look, here is where we are now..."
"Right under your finger, ha ha, yeah."
"So you follow this road to here, then turn here, then —"
"Wait, no! There's a break in the road!"
"What? Where?"
"That's a rip in the paper because of the fold."
"So how do I get past the break in the road?"
"It's not a break; it's a rip."
"Semantics! You say rip; I say break!"
"The rip isn't part of the map!"
"Look right there! Are you saying that's not part of the map?"
"From the point of view of the map, it's not there."
"The map has a point of view?"
"No, no. Listen: the map is not the territory."
"So they say."
"Right. And that rip isn't there in real life."
"But ..."
"Lord! For millenia people have used maps successfully! What's your problem?"
"It doesn't make sense, is all. You and your invisible rips!"
"Okay, forget that. I have a different idea."
"What now?"
"I'm sure you already have one of these, but ... here."
"A compass?"
"Yes. If you use this and heed the signs, you'll get to where you need to go."
"How does it work?"
"Magic. It works by magic. It has always worked by magic. Just use it intelligently."
"So, sense of direction, common sense, and paying attention. Anything else?"
"Yes. Enjoy your journey!"